Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
On Twitter: SoccerInsider and PostSports  |  Facebook  |  Sports e-mail alerts  |  RSS

DCU Coaching Update

Greetings from North Carolina, site of the NCAA College Cup.

The Caleb Porter-D.C. United reference on the Insider earlier today requires further explanation.

Here's what I have been able to piece together since first reporting the Porter-DCU link several weeks ago:

My contacts in coaching and soccer-industry circles say the University of Akron boss is atop the MLS club's wish list to fill the head coaching vacancy left open by Tom Soehn. One source said he believed Porter was 90 percent certain of going to United. Another source said DCU "badly" wanted to hire him.

There's much more.....

About a month ago, club president Kevin Payne and General Manager Dave Kasper attended an Akron regular season match.

We know that, besides Porter and Onalfo, United's list included New York interim coach Richie Williams, Real Salt Lake assistant Robin Fraser and DCU assistant Chad Ashton, who seems more likely to be retained in his current position than competing for the top job. (Ashton has continued scouting for the club this fall.) Maryland's Sasho Cirovski had also been mentioned as a potential target.

The feeling I have is that United wants to hire someone outside normal league channels. Hence, the interest in Porter.

Late last week, United officials began contacting their wide range of candidates and telling them they had narrowed their options to two. Sources told the Insider that those two were Porter and former Kansas City coach Curt Onalfo. The club was also planning to speak with at least two foreign coaches.

Keep in mind that United officials have declined repeated requests for comment about the coaching search. And Porter, 34, has been preoccupied with the unbeaten Zips' pursuit of an NCAA title, culminating here in Cary, N.C., with Friday's semifinals and, if Akron defeats North Carolina, Sunday's final against Virginia or Wake Forest.

So everything you are reading is the product of information-gathering from outside sources. Could the situation change? Am I missing something? It's certainly possible. But at the moment, to the best of my knowledge, this is where things stand.

If United makes a formal offer, will Porter accept? You would think so. I could certainly see Porter supported by Ashton (three years of MLS experience), recently retired Ben Olsen and longtime goalkeepers coach Mark Simpson.

But there's a lot to be said for remaining in the safe world of college soccer, where summer camps provide extra income and success on the field translates to long-term job security and a possible move to a larger program. In MLS, even the most successful coaches are fired at some point. And after two disappointing seasons, United needs to start winning again -- a backdrop that would, no doubt, put pressure on a young coach with no pro experience.

By Steve Goff  |  December 10, 2009; 8:23 PM ET
Categories:  College Soccer , D.C. United  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Weekend TV Listings
Next: Friday Kickaround

Comments

On the other hand, a modest spell of success in MLS could also serve as a young coach's stepping stone toward national team duty.

Posted by: edgeonyou | December 10, 2009 8:36 PM | Report abuse

GO ZIPS!!!

Posted by: kasdc | December 10, 2009 8:40 PM | Report abuse

I worked with Caleb at U of Indiana summer camps. He would be tremendous. Great guy, gets along well with everyone, but knows his stuff and commands respect. As an Indiana alum, he has a pipeline of players and alums to help evaluate talent. They could do much worse.

Posted by: CardCat | December 10, 2009 8:52 PM | Report abuse

Great reporting. Thanks, Steve.

Posted by: mddeblois | December 10, 2009 8:52 PM | Report abuse

After 2 disappointing seasons and a rapidly aging roster, I think the mgmt would be fairly patient with a young coach -- looking for signs of progress and future success, not necessarily immediate gratification.

As for Porter himself, he probably does see himself on a bit of a fast track to greater glory. If he can compete an undefeated season, then he moves on to United, where he can scarcely do much worse than Soehn did the last 2 years. Sure, pro coaches do get fired, but the ones with strong reputations get hired elsewhere. It wouldn't be outrageous for him to entertain visions of national team duty someday, given his early and amazingly successful start. Strike while the iron is hot.

My question is how much does he like the Zips' sophomore striker, Teal Bunburry? Enough to try and talk him into following the coach to DC? Enough to trade up to get him in the draft, if he declares? Is it possible that these matters are already under discussion?

Posted by: fischy | December 10, 2009 8:55 PM | Report abuse

Thanks again for the goods Steve.
Would a trip to North Carolina be complete without a breakfast at Biscuitville?
Enjoy!

Posted by: DadRyan | December 10, 2009 8:55 PM | Report abuse

107 days until United's first 2010 league match!


tick...tock...tick...tock....

Posted by: Curious99 | December 10, 2009 9:04 PM | Report abuse

"Great reporting. Thanks, Steve.

Posted by: mddeblois |"

x2

Posted by: sockey1 | December 10, 2009 9:05 PM | Report abuse

My gut tells me it would be a great hire. Frankly, I think most of the MLS clubs have done really well with the new coaching hires. Peter Nowak, of course, for Philly. Preki for Toronto, Vazquez @ Chivas, Porter for DC. The Fire could probably do worse than Robin Fraser. The outliers are NY, which is still diddling around -- though it looks like they've hired a strong GM -- and KC, where Vermes reappointed himself, despite all the countervailing evidence (in Vermes' defense, there's not much chance that any coach could win in KC). Seems like Paul Mariner was wise to jump ship and sail across the pond, where he's suddenly a head coach for a Coca-Cola Championship side. Pity poor John Spencer -- always the bridesmaid....

Posted by: fischy | December 10, 2009 9:12 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the explanation, Goff! I was kind of like wha, wha, wha, what? reading the first post. :-)

Personally, this feels like the better choice between the supposed final two.

@CardCat- please continue!

Posted by: KireDCU | December 10, 2009 9:12 PM | Report abuse

Unless DC is talking to Klinsmann, or someone of that ilk who could attract players to DCU on the basis of his name alone, I think Caleb Porter is a good choice. MLS is increasingly growing dependent on younger players, both American and foreign, and Porter would seem well-prepared to foster their development in the MLS. And the adage "if you are good enough, you are old enough" might be the way older, team-focused veterans, like Olsen or Namhoff, might view a coach their own age. Selfish, "me-first" players like Emilio and Gomez would be more unwilling to listen to anyone so why should Porter be excluded because people who won't listen to anyone won't listen to him either.
The bottom line: DCU is not a very good squad. We are not a player or two away from a championship. We need to build and grow. There are only two ways to do that: bring in older, higher-priced veterans from abroad to add talent and quality to the squad (and hope they are Gallardos or Claudio Reynas) or build a team concept from the bottom up with younger talent, surrounding them with quality veterans and a coaching staff who can make them realize what wearing the DCU jersey should mean.

Posted by: rcdwriting | December 10, 2009 9:16 PM | Report abuse

Left out an important word in my post: NOT.

There are only two ways to do that: bring in older, higher-priced veterans from abroad to add talent and quality to the squad (and hope they are NOT Gallardos or Claudio Reynas)

Posted by: rcdwriting | December 10, 2009 9:20 PM | Report abuse

Porter is too inexperienced to command the flagship of the MLS. Go with Onalfo. He has everything that we need- was Papa Bruce's right hand man, MLS player, and MLS head coach. He got a raw deal at KC. He could succeed with DC United. We need to be in the playoffs THIS YEAR! To be out of the playoffs for more that three years is totally unacceptable and could be detrimental the the franchise in the long run...

Posted by: alan19 | December 10, 2009 9:21 PM | Report abuse

@alan19 - "Porter is too inexperienced to command the flagship of the MLS."

That's why he's up for the job at DC United.

Posted by: fret44 | December 10, 2009 9:25 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the details on this, Steve.

Next up: Stadium News?

My early wish for a Hanukkah gift.

I think the first team to report new progress will be the Dynamo. They were to go forward with their 21,000-seat stadium before the end of the year, but electoral politics have put that on hold. It sounded like it was coming together -- downtown, a rail line will be extended to the venue, and thanks to the economic downturn, they're able to build more stadium than they could have afforded before.

http://houston.bizjournals.com/houston/stories/2009/06/22/story4.html

Hint, hint to DC and DCU. If 2010 brings stadium news for the Dynamo, DCU and the Revs, and a World Cup hosting for the USA, professional soccer will be the big storyline for the next decade.

By the way, if you think the stadium politics in DC is something, check out this phenomenally good blog piece on how next week's Mayoral vote may determine the fate of the Dynamo's project:

http://theoriginalwinger.com/2009-11-24-proposed-new-houston-dynamo-stadium-site

Posted by: fischy | December 10, 2009 9:31 PM | Report abuse

Porter has to roll the dice on his future, but even "non-Bruce Arena" figures have managed long-term employment in MLS.

Nicol, Sigi, Preki, Yallop, Kinnear, Nowak returning--that together with Bruce is nearly half the league.

In other words, plenty of head coaches have had employment in MLS that is as close to permanent as you'll get at this level.

Posted by: Shmenge | December 10, 2009 10:17 PM | Report abuse

Again with the flagship club talk... My poor computer needs a rain slicker already. Cold beer flyin' out my nose!

Posted by: DadRyan | December 10, 2009 10:25 PM | Report abuse

No word on Bruce Arena, huh? ;)

Posted by: Reignking | December 10, 2009 10:46 PM | Report abuse

I think the choice shows very little creativity. Doesn't inspire a lot of confidence from me as a fan. The fact that coaches have very little job security means that coaches will follow the money in certain instances. There coaches in this hemisphere with experience in international competitions, that have dealt with a low budget, and that have dealt with the pressure of the domestic league. Hell, 10 coaches in the world cup make less than a half million. Im not slamming porter, but is this really the best that DCU can do? How is this supposed to make fan that has dealt with two bad years feel?

Posted by: totalfootballer | December 10, 2009 11:12 PM | Report abuse

I'm pleased, leaning towards excited. I'm all for a guy on the fast track fast tracking his way through this team, cause that means he's done well enough in DC to make someone else want him.

Also, I'd love to see the Dynamo get that stadium. They have the fan support to make it a wonderful atmosphere, and it looks like a really nice place.

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | December 10, 2009 11:16 PM | Report abuse

Schmenge, you'll recall that both Bruce Arena and Sigi Schmid have been fired in this league, which is pretty much Goff's point.

Posted by: spidergoose | December 10, 2009 11:59 PM | Report abuse

The 1st leg of the Mexican final in Monterrey just finished in sloppy, wet conditions but the game was exciting and in no way a tactical, defensive game. Cruz Azul's Emmanuel Villa led the Mexican league in scoring this season and opened up the scoring by heading in a corner kick after just a few minutes of play. Unfortunately for him, it was an own goal into his own net to give Monterrey the lead.

Then Cruz Azul woke up and really piled on the pressure scoring 3 goals into their opponents goal (including one by Villa) to seemingly crush Monterrey's will midway thru the opening half.

But Monterrey had a great 2nd half and clawed 2 goals back to tie it up and then, approaching stoppage time, Humberto Suazo took advantage of Monterrey keeper Corona's inability to pick the ball up in traffic and put it into an empty net to give the home team a 4-3 win.

Cruz Azul has to win in Mexico City next Sunday.

Can't remember if away goals act as a tiebreaker. In the earlier rounds of the Liguilla the higher seeded team automatically wins when aggregate scores are tied, but the championship round is played on an equal footing.

Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | December 11, 2009 12:11 AM | Report abuse

I think that it is better to place faith in someone who is fighting for his life than a recycled option who is working purely on his MLS resume and the fact he didn't screw up enough to be axed brutally. If you notice, it is always the hungry strikers who make the biggest impact for club and country. It works the same in any profession, once we get the job, things settle down. His youth will probably just force him to impose his will.

Plus, if he doesn't work out, then we have time to look for another option. One that clearly isn't there right now.

Posted by: UnitedDemon | December 11, 2009 12:12 AM | Report abuse

thanks for the links fischy. Sounds like a lot could hinge on the election. Don't like the sounds of Houston having to share the stadium with an American Football team. The pitch at Robertson looked really bad in the playoff match held there. Might as well have been playing on the kitty litter.

I do like the sound of a downtown stadium though.

Posted by: DadRyan | December 11, 2009 12:51 AM | Report abuse

Quick aside: Attleboro, MA paper says that Lafayette GK Phil Nelson has been invited for a tryout by United:

http://www.thesunchronicle.com/articles/2009/12/11/sports/6598111.txt

Now, to the topic at hand:

DadRyan keeps mocking the idea that DC United is MLS's most prestigious club, but I think that misses the point. The standard at DC United has been set, and it means winning titles and playing better soccer than the average MLS team. Kevin Payne has publicly stated it, and the comments here and in Lot 8 make it clear that us fans have the same requirements. Fans of other clubs see us as a self-righteous, snobbish group, because we act like we deserve better than others. Well, that's the standard: to be better than everyone else. That's how elite teams stay elite. Who wants to be associated with some also-ran team that is OK with just making the playoffs? We have not lived up to the standard in years.

Porter could be a disaster. He could also be brilliant; no one knows. However, we can look at Onalfo's record, his accomplishments, and what he's done within games, and that evidence all points pretty clearly to another season finishing in MLS's soft middle. Do you find that appealing? I don't. I don't want to watch our 30th game, climbing the walls with stress about whether we get into the playoffs (which would almost certainly be 2 games and out). I'm tired of trying to find the good qualities in a mediocre team. I don't want to be like NY fans, fondly remembering their rare, minor triumphs while resigned to big-picture defeat.

If you watched Onalfo's Wizards, they were extremely similar to Soehn's United: capable in possession, attack-minded, prone to inexplicable defensive collapses, and often featured subs that didn't add up. All the signs point to Onalfo continuing our 2008 and 2009 form, and that is flat-out unacceptable.

I should add don't have some deep-down problem or grudge against Onalfo. He was, by all accounts, an extremely capable assistant with the national team who did some very good work scouting opponents. I think that his attacking approach to the game is the right one. However, having seen his Wizards squads in 2008 and 2009, I can't help but see a similar set of problems and a lack of action to solve them.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | December 11, 2009 3:57 AM | Report abuse

Quick aside: Attleboro, MA paper says that Lafayette GK Phil Nelson has been invited for a tryout by United:

http://www.thesunchronicle.com/articles/2009/12/11/sports/6598111.txt

Now, to the topic at hand:

DadRyan keeps mocking the idea that DC United is MLS's most prestigious club, but I think that misses the point. The standard at DC United has been set, and it means winning titles and playing better soccer than the average MLS team. Kevin Payne has publicly stated it, and the comments here and in Lot 8 make it clear that us fans have the same requirements. Fans of other clubs see us as a self-righteous, snobbish group, because we act like we deserve better than others. Well, that's the standard: to be better than everyone else. That's how elite teams stay elite. Who wants to be associated with some also-ran team that is OK with just making the playoffs? We have not lived up to the standard in years.

Porter could be a disaster. He could also be brilliant; no one knows. However, we can look at Onalfo's record, his accomplishments, and what he's done within games, and that evidence all points pretty clearly to another season finishing in MLS's soft middle. Do you find that appealing? I don't. I don't want to watch our 30th game, climbing the walls with stress about whether we get into the playoffs (which would almost certainly be 2 games and out). I'm tired of trying to find the good qualities in a mediocre team. I don't want to be like NY fans, fondly remembering their rare, minor triumphs while resigned to big-picture defeat.

If you watched Onalfo's Wizards, they were extremely similar to Soehn's United: capable in possession, attack-minded, prone to inexplicable defensive collapses, and often featured subs that didn't add up. All the signs point to Onalfo continuing our 2008 and 2009 form, and that is flat-out unacceptable.

I should add don't have some deep-down problem or grudge against Onalfo. He was, by all accounts, an extremely capable assistant with the national team who did some very good work scouting opponents. I think that his attacking approach to the game is the right one. However, having seen his Wizards squads in 2008 and 2009, I can't help but see a similar set of problems and a lack of action to solve them.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | December 11, 2009 3:58 AM | Report abuse

Sorry about the double post. Not sure what happened there.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | December 11, 2009 3:59 AM | Report abuse

Chest, in reference to NY fans clinging to the memories of their fleeting triumphs, what are you referring to, exactly? Making it to the finals as the loswest seed in the playoffs one year? Have they ever even won a trophy?

I would have liked it if United had looked at Vidovich who turned Wake into a preeminent power and sustained excellence in what is clearly the toughest conference in college soccer. Who knows, maybe they did.

It will be interesting to see how Akron looks in the semifinals later today.

Posted by: JaimeSegundo | December 11, 2009 6:18 AM | Report abuse

Watch Akron lose today...

Posted by: alan19 | December 11, 2009 7:58 AM | Report abuse

I dunno, but I'm not as excited about Porter being Uniteds new coach. Maybe the guy is a good coach, but as people have noted in the past, the MLS is a different beast. With the draft and MLS's crazy rules it certainly helps to have experience within MLS prior to becoming a coach here. I understand that he'd be surrounded by people with experience, but it just seems like the learning curve would be high and if you want to simply go "outside the MLS waters" why not seriously look into a foreign coach with experience? If he is indeed the coach, I wish him the best of luck, but I doubt I'll re-new my season tickets for a new, untested coach, an aging roster and a stadium that is falling down.

Posted by: CrippledKeeper | December 11, 2009 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Good stuff steve. Now i know why the post hired you!! I still think Sasho from umd would be the best fit. He has a good eye for talent. Ill pray that some how he gets the nod.

Posted by: g3impreza | December 11, 2009 9:32 AM | Report abuse

I think Porter is an exciting option. We're building a young dynamic team and need a young coach to go with it. Someone looking to make their mark, not tred water.

Posted by: SoccerVA | December 11, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

The flagship team?

Bear in mind that when Caleb was young he lead the Hebews to the promised land . . . and they refused to listen to him. When he was 40, he said his squad were strong enough to conquer, but his squad wouldn't listen. Numbers 13.

And he had to wait 45 years in the wilderness to get his second shot. And yet, he stayed strong -- strong enough to fight as well as march -- until the age of 85, and then he got the job done. Joshua 14.

So the latter day Caleb's got that going for him. Which is nice.

Posted by: OWNTF | December 11, 2009 9:45 AM | Report abuse

"On the other hand, a modest spell of success in MLS could also serve as a young coach's stepping stone toward national team duty."
______________________________________

Highly unlikely, if you are referring to becoming the head coach of the Senior Men's National Team. Only two former MLS coaches have held that position in the history of the league. How many coaches have their been in MLS so far? A lot.

Posted by: Palin-McCain2012 | December 11, 2009 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, but how many of the DC United coaches have been involved in National team duty in some form or another? Most...

Posted by: alan19 | December 11, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Porter is definitely not the safe pick, but seems to have better upside. Sounds similar to picking between to players: exp. vet vs. rookie potential.

I love the idea of bringing in Ben and keeping Simpson. Not excited to hear that Ashton may still be around.

Posted by: buck-bass-goal | December 11, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Looking to the college ranks demonstrates flexibility not often found in the DCU front office. Nevertheless, the 800 pound gorilla in this conversation is control of the roster. Is the DCU front office looking for someone willing to allow the front office to construct the roster? Someone either naive or desperate enough to allow Payne/Kasper continue to foist players like Moreno on them? I think the technical term for this is a "patsy." Might it be that Richie Williams is too tough and too knowledgeable to agree to such an arrangement?

Posted by: Jphubba | December 11, 2009 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Chest, I mean no disrespect to anyone, and I know that the stars on the shirt and the trophy case in the office prove that MLS's most successful club is still DCU by a long shot, but as of late I feel like slapping that tag on the club every time they're talked about makes me cringe. If Emilio, and Fred get dissed and dismissed as much as they do for their lack of production, I feel like it's only a natural reaction to curb my enthusiasm for thinking DCU as a whole is operating like an elite club.

Hey if we come out and thrash the Scroungers and win the Open Cup again, along with the SS and the MLS Cup I'll be happy to start talking about flagships and elite this and that again. Gotta do better than what was done in the last two seasons. At least.

Posted by: DadRyan | December 11, 2009 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, but how many of the DC United coaches have been involved in National team duty in some form or another? Most...
________________________________________

Good point.

Posted by: Palin-McCain2012 | December 11, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

I think that it is better to place faith in someone who is fighting for his life than a recycled option who is working purely on his MLS resume and the fact he didn't screw up enough to be axed brutally. If you notice, it is always the hungry strikers who make the biggest impact for club and country. It works the same in any profession, once we get the job, things settle down. His youth will probably just force him to impose his will.

Posted by: UnitedDemon

I agree with this. Well to the extent that we're not getting a big name, high dollar coach from Europe or SA. So with the limited options out there, i'll agree, always go with the more hungry guy. Actually, it may work out better than a bigger name with nothing to prove or work for.

Posted by: Brian76 | December 11, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

I just got this strange error when I submitted my previous post:
___________________________________

Comment Submission Error
Your comment submission failed for the following reasons:

Too many comments have been submitted from you in a short period of time. Please try again in a short while.
Return to the original entry.
___________________________________

Two posts 50 minutes apart is too frequent?

Posted by: Palin-McCain2012 | December 11, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

In Goff we trust...or at least I do. If he says Porter's the man, I believe it. The only thing I see stopping this is the possibility of some super-secret negotiations underway with a Euro manager. Not that I think that's happening, just saying it's the only thing I could see preventing a press conference with Porter next week. I.e., cross Onalfo off your list, and I think that's a good thing because he would just be Soehn 2.0.

As an Indiana University alum, I would be proud to welcome Caleb Porter to DC to guide my favorite club. It's true that DCU hasn't fared all that well with players from IU (best one we've had is Kovalenko), but I'm confident with Porter at the helm we'll all feel better about United in a year.

Posted by: cmjhawk86 | December 11, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

I really think that DCU did the classy thing if they are trying to hire Porter. They did not ruin Akron's NCAA run so that they could hire him, however I do not think that is the right thing for the franchise. DCU needs a coach now, but they did not do want Notre Dame did to Cincinnati before their Sugar Bowl game by hiring a coach of a team right before the last game of the season. I commend the DCU front office for that.

Posted by: no_recess | December 11, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Chest Rockwell is the flagship commenter on Soccer Insider.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | December 11, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

@ Palin-McCain2012 -- Can we get you another name? In response to your question, I"m betting that you tried to submit the same comment twice in succession, clicking the submit button a second time because you didn't see it posted yet on your screen.

Posted by: fischy | December 11, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

@I270 Enough with the flagship poster stuff! Chest Rockwell hasn't had a lengthy post breaking down poor DCU roster decisions in WEEKS!

No recess makes a good point that I'll build on though. If the team wanted to sign Onalfo, they would have done it already. If the team wants to sign Porter, it makes more sense to wait until next week.

I think this is a done deal.

Posted by: DCUMD | December 11, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

I sure hope this works out better for DCU than Spurrier did for the 'Skins. I can't be the only one drawing instant parallels..let's hope Porters "exciting" style doesn't = fun n' gun :O

Posted by: NattyBo1985 | December 11, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

I think Chest and I agree

Posted by: totalfootballer | December 11, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

"and DCU assistant Chad Ashton, who seems more likely to be retained in his current position than competing for the top job"

God I hope not. He's been part of the malaise that has infected this team since Nowak left. Out with the old, in with the...whatever.

Thx,

Jay!

Posted by: jayrockers | December 11, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company